When talking to prospects, especially those wanting the Cloud Version of Business Central, I find that most want an “out of the box” implementation and are averse to having discussions on modifications.
This feels like a new cycle in prospect discussions, and one that I am not sure is easy to respond too directly. We believe every business really wants a solution that genuinely fits their business, is loved by all users, is easy to maintain and keep up to date.
How do you know “Out of the box” fits those needs – in any product – not just Business Central?
What’s the motive for out of the box
In our view, when managers state “we want it out of the box”, we don’t think what they are asking for is truly “give me Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as it comes”.
The “want” is much deeper than that and approaching the project almost expecting the client to know Business Central so well that they can make this assertation is going to create a perfect storm of expectation gaps and an unhappy relationship.
Our role is to educate and answer the real question. Prospects will not know the capabilities of Business Central. Even if they used Navision / Dynamics NAV in a previous company, they probably did not know what was standard and what was customised.
The real requirement
Based on many conversations and meetings, we think are the question that are really being asked with the “out of the box” statement is that we want to:
- Have the system implemented fast, so we can start gaining benefits ASAP. We don’t want to spent time, money and effort discussing, designing and testing bespoke functionality
- Get a system that is regularly updated with new features that will make us more productive, even if this means compromising on some – less critical – areas
- Be confident it will work for us as other businesses – like ours – are able to use the same system we want
- Ensure our users will like it and have a pain free acceptance of the new system
- Know we are free to change partner if – for whatever the reason – our relationship sours. We don’t want to feel tied to an unhappy partner relationship just because the partner holds the knowledge of how our unique system works
- Easily take advantage of the ecosystem of solutions that extend Business central, without days of making it fit with and around our bespoke changes.
- Enjoy a simple, cost effective, reliable and safe upgrade process
- Have regular fixes and updates applied so we know the system is working optimally
- Be able to recruit people that know how to use our system (as it works like the one they have already used).
Meeting that requirement
Any solution out there has its pros and cons, so it is unlikely they will give a perfect fit for any business. As a business partner, how do we ensure that the desire for “out of the box” is met when the client does not (at this point) know the box well enough nor do we know their business well enough to confidently say “yes” it will fit.
At this point we need to discover what is needed for the business and what is desirable. We do this by talking to the key users and understanding what it is a business needs to perform well. This can be a discrete phase of the sale with on-site visits or over a few conversations via the phone or Webinars with screen sharing.
However, one thing we do notice now is that people have much less time to discuss this and spent the ideal amount of time with us. This leads to a Catch-22. We need to know more to be confident that the solution works “as is” for them, but the users need a better system to have the time to say what it needs to do for them.
This typically means we now work on a “80/20” basis, we spend much less time with the client and discover (or drill into) the really important aspects of what must be done. This means w probably can spend 20% of the time discovering 80% of what will be needed.
This approach – particularly for smaller customers – works really well, as long as there is trust in both parties. It also works much better with a phased approach to the roll out the system rather than a big bang.
Phased roll outs
Previously “big bang” roll outs were very common, deploying a new system to several departments at the same time. Now, we are more frequently seeing roll outs this split into smaller ‘chunks’, probably by department or business area. For, example Finance may get the system first, then we extend it out to the sales & purchasing team, then Warehouse, etc.
This is a really effective way of deploying a new solution is these busy times. Projects are smaller, the potential disruption is contained, and the risk reduced because of this. The team gets really familiar with Business Central and we get really familiar with the business.
When the next phase is kicked off, the discussions are far richer and more effective. This is partly due to the greater familiarity & trust, but also due to the available time for the key people involved. The motivation is also higher as everyone has seen the benefits the system has brought so are more willing to make time for these valuable discussions.
What if it does not fit
If during our initial discussions – or later – we find the system does not fit, we can both walk away with ease knowing that this did not go too far. Far too many IT companies are focussed on “winning” business, but we know a sale with a bad fit is a “loss” for both businesses.
Alternatively, we can suggest small customisations or pre-built Apps that can bridge the gap. This is very different to the old world of ‘bespoke’ customisations as these Apps do not (at least for Business Central) affect maintenance and are already tried and tested things we have done or used elsewhere.
Either way we both make an informed choice based on what we understand. This approach ensures expectations ae fairly set and we met those with clear guidelines and project approach.
Please feel free to contact one of our friendly sales consultants to discuss any of the pros and cons of ‘out of the box’ systems, which approach is right for you and what the key issues you are facing are. Our aim is to ensure that you get a project approach and system that you and your users deserve